A nine-year-old boy is found murdered at the bottom of a well near a popular beach resort in southern Italy. In what looks like a hopeless case for Guido Guerrieri, a Senegalese peddler is accused of the crime. Faced with small-town racism, Guido attempts to exploit the esoteric workings of the Italian courts. The voice of Sean Barrett brings this gritty Italian detective series to life.
©2005 Gianrico Carofiglio (P)2011 Audible Ltd
“Hard-boiled and sun-dried in equal parts. Where Philip Marlowe would be knocking back bourbon and listening to the snap of fist on jaw, Guido Guerrieri prefers Sicilian wine and Leonard Cohen. The role of Guerrieri is to take on impossible cases that have little chance of success. His efforts to prove his client's innocence bring him into dangerous conflict with Mafia interests. Everything a legal thriller should be.” (Financial Times)
''At one level an exciting courtroom thriller, but what places it in a superior league is the portrayal of a slice of Italian society not normally encountered in crime fiction and an immensely appealing flawed hero." (The Times, London)
If this novel is typical, there is a big difference between U.S. and Italian crime novels. Do not expect anything like “Lincoln Lawyer”. The actual crime and trial are secondary to the musings of the main character, Attorney Guido Guerrieri, And it seems that attorneys in Italy prepare for trial ONLY by reading the information given to them by the prosecuting attorney and police without doing any interviewing of witnesses or investigating on their own before trial. It’s very odd. Actually, frustrating is a better word.
I thought that since this is the first book in a series the author had decided to use most of novel introducing the reader to Guido, and you do grow to like him. He often mentions American books, music and art. He is finding himself after a divorce. But now I have started the second book, and more is being revealed about Guido, I am thinking that these books are more about how this man thinks, his humor, his self awareness and how he conducts himself within the legal system, then solving any “crime” or winning any trial.
Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
This is perhaps the most thoughtfully written crime novel I've come across . . . the story within the story of Guido's personal life during the trial was equally important . . . so much so that I think it led him to take the case to defend the peddler accused of killing the nine year old boy. Finally trusting his gut as to the man's innocence, with everything to lose, he plunges ahead. I loved the setting in Italy in the late 1990s, too. You can't miss with this one.
Typical cat lady: lazy, sings off-key, craves spicy bloody marys.
That title doesn't make much sense, but, like a rich Italian entree, I'm trying to figure out all the ingredients that made this short novel so enjoyable to listen to. The writing is precise and introspective, the tone is self-deprecating, the atmosphere, urban with a splash of European beach culture. The narration (not an Italian accent) is seductive, chiseled and intimate.
The story is besides the point...this is a character study squisito with Milhone-style details (instead of pulling on jeans and a sweatshirt, our protagonist slips into soft Italian loafers). Avvocato Guido shares his meals with us along with his embarrassments, unromantic notions and Italian points of law. Veramente buono!
You have to start with the fact that the book was written in Italian and that it's somewhat dated. So that excuses some of its shortcomings. The protagonist is a lawyer representing a client accused of murdering a child. The interesting part is that the book gives insights into the Italian court system and Italian countryside. (I'm going to Italy, which is why I bought it.) But the resolution of the case relies on supposedly insightful techniques that are old hat to anyone who watches Law and Order, CSI, Major Crimes -- you get the idea. Plus, about half the book is not dedicated to the case at all, but to the emotional problems of the lawyer after his wife leaves him. He goes for coffee, he lights a cigarette, he lights another cigarette, he has more coffee. It gets tedious.
Don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Trip's cool though. Use Audible to make gym-training sane... And rip my imagination.
There's an interesting but very tiny and inconsequential courtroom thing hidden inside of this interminable character study of a character that wasn't worth the study. And the level of detail… AAARGH! I really didn't care what the guy wore out of the house to a plot-useless meeting. If you like walking beaches for hours on grey days to find shells… Well, do that. This book will still bore. ZZZZZZ…..
Retired Political Science professor from a community college. Especially like Legal Thrillers.
I strongly disagree with some of the rave reviews of this book. This is more of a psychological analysis of an Italian lawyer than it is about a murder case.
I feel like this book would fare better with Italian readers who might appreciate a more existential way of writing. I am all for existentialism, but not when it applies to a crime novel. You literally go half way into this book before you even understand what is going on with the man convicted of the crime, so its hard to care about the crime part of it. The rest is the narrator's marriage and random things about his life. I just don't feel like its a good mix. A crime novel succeeds for me when it is more plot driven, with the characters secondary. I'm an American though. I just felt like he wanted to write like Camus and Raymond Chandler at the same time. Before attempting this author, search Mediterranean Noir on Wikipedia to get a grasp for what this book is like. Aside from my qualms with the book itself, narration was great.
Enjoying one good listen after the next!
Some might label this book "slow" but not me. I thoroughly enjoyed the telling of this tale. The "slowness" would come from the fact that the book provides an interesting personal history of the lawyer at the center of the storm and listeners discover that this particular lawyer can be both detached and emotionally involved in his cases; has remarkable psychological quirks just like the rest of us; and doesn't always enjoy or even like his work or colleagues. These inclusions in the story create a thread of interest that keeps the listener eager for more.
This is not an action-packed court room drama that you may be used to hearing. But I found it very interesting, especially since it is set in the Italian court system.
Although I find the protagonist in the few of these books I have read quite charming, this particular reading is thronged with beyond tedious courtroom questions, procedures, identifications, etc. I found that when my mind drifted out of boredom, it really made no difference to where I was in the story. The main character is complex, yet very well developed and the reader is given entree to his inner persona. Were the story more interesting, it would have been a great read.
Even though Involuntary Witness has a courtroom subplot, it isn't a legal thriller or a mystery. It is a story of how a man, who happens to be an attorney, is shattered by and recovers from a divorce and grows as an individual. It wasn't what I expected from the title and the cover art, but I enjoyed listening. The courtroom story arc is extremely interesting and says a lot about the Italian legal system and immigration issues. I have no idea how the title relates to the story. The narrator does a nice job but he sounded too old. When he said "avvocato," the Italian word for attorney, it sounded like he was saying avocado. If you enjoy foreign films, you might enjoy this.
"A lost man finds himself in defending another."
This is the story of a lawyer taking on a seemingly unwinnable case and somehow putting together an improbable defence. In doing so he finds himself once more, in an emotional and practical way. The manner of the story is rather downbeat, as suits, but builds as we progress through the case.
The story is well constructed in a gradual and believable way, with a clear emotional aspect, which Sean Barrett, in his usual style, pulls together well. I shall definitely be listening to more even though I discovered Carofiglio's novel by chance through an offer. This is a definite recommendation for a book which is not just a court procedural but shows a man lost and doubting himself, seeking a way to proceed with his life in a positive manner.
"Quite Simply : this is first rate"
I was tempted to read this by another reviewer who in turn had been directed to it by a remark made by Sean Barrett during an interview. And am I glad I took the hint. This is a great find. The plot is very simple - this is no who dun it - it is more a quiet and steady courtroom drama - interwoven with the changes taking place in the advocates life. It really does make compelling listening, I switched on at every possible opportunity. The writing is excellent and a great deal of credit for that must be down to the translator as well as the original author, whilst Sean Barrett has never been better. I have already downloaded the 2nd in the series and will be interested to see how the strands of the advocates personal life can be picked up and made as interesting as in this first book.
"Boring self-indulgent meanderings"
This book is less about the story (which could have been interesting and entertaining) than about the depressingly uninteresting Central character, avocato guido. Hours are spent describing his inconsequential meetings with women, or his mental state, or his favourite songs, or his endless cigarettes. I cannot help feeling that as the author is also an avocato in Bari, this is self-indulgently autobiographical. He seems to think that a blow by blow account of a magnificent defence Is interesting reading, whereas it comes across self-congratulatory and arrogant. And boring. I will definitely not be reading any more by this author.
Although Sean barratt gave this an excellent performance, it did not make up for the annoyance and irrelevance of the writing.
"A long short story"
Enjoyable meandering short story on steroids. The end game was obvious it seemed to me. The main characters were somewhat interesting without being engrossing. Sean Barrett was excellent as ever.
"No smoking please"
This is a story about your typical antihero. An italian lawyer Guido, depressed after devorcing his wife, taking on a case about a young boy abducted and killed and suspected street salesman accused of the murder. Nothing much happens in this story. Guido is not a great lawyer, nor a detective, most of the time he is...smoking. You can almost count down 20 seconds and Guido will light his next cigarette. Carofiglio spends most of this book vividly expanding on his facination with cigarettes and smoking and you can almost smell it in your clothes afterwards. Both the story and the plot gets lost in the smoke. Not even sure why the book is named Involuntary Witness.
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